Second Mario Trailer – Yep, Looks Bad

I was pleasantly surprised by the first trailer for the new, animated Super Mario Brothers movie: the aesthetics looked just right, Bowser was portrayed as a genuine threat rather than a joke, and so on.

Now the second one’s landed and…egh. Good feeling’s gone.

As I said last time, the crucial factor is Peach, and it looks like they’ve dropped the ball with her. At least from what’s shown in the trailer, she’s no longer the sweet, lovable damsel-in-distress, but a thoroughly generic ‘strong female character’ who gets exasperated over how silly and clumsy Mario is. Gag.

You know, I am so sick of ‘strong female characters’. They are all the same and they’re so bloody boring! Peach already has a great personality from the games, one that is distinct and different from other video game characters, even in her own franchise: that cheerfully feminine, playful, optimistically confident classic princess character which you could play about a hundred different ways.

And her voice is simply awful. It’s much too low, much too flat, and, again, completely generic. If you told me that any of about fifty actresses were voicing her, I’d believe you. Peach in the games has a distinctive, high, girly voice that suits her perfectly. Even if they didn’t want to go with that exactly, she should have something that at least has a similar character…or, failing that, at least some character at all!

(Frankly, there are only a handful of ‘name’ actresses working today who are worth hiring in VA roles, because all the others sound pretty much exactly the same. You’d be much better off hiring actresses who specialize in voice-over work. And now I’ve just made myself sad by imagining someone like Colleen O’Shaughnessey or Tara Strong in the role…).

On that note, it may be just for the trailer, but I don’t like Mario being as clumsy and incompetent as he seems to be here (I’m generally really tired of trailers doing the “here’s something heroic and impressive…and we abruptly subvert it” gag. That’s more played out than a ball of yarn in a bottomless pit). Sure, he’s a comedic character and should have some slapstick and so on, but he’s also one of the great heroes of video games, so he ought to be at least competent and good at what he does. In fact, I’d say the appeal of the character is that he’s simultaneously such a goofy-looking every man, but absolutely dominates when the going gets tough.

And again, Chris Pratt’s voice is too flat and generic.

Some of the gags, like the “we’re adorable!” one strike me as of a style that I’ve been seeing, but have only just managed to pin down. It’s what you might call ‘audience-focused writing;’ where the writer tries to insert what they imagine the audience’s reaction will be into the script in an effort to sound self-aware and clever. So, it’s not what someone in this scene would say, it’s what someone watching the scene might say. Only, this isn’t really clever at all and only makes the whole thing feel artificial and shallow, like they’re winking through the screen. It’s a plague on writing these days.

On the other hand, Bowser still looks like they’re playing him just right (as does Luigi), the aesthetics are perfect, and they seem to be pulling out all the stops to pay tribute to the game world, so I’m not completely without hope for this one. Trailers often make films, especially animated ones, look a lot worse than they really are. So, if there’s good word of mouth, I’ll check it out. But so far, not looking promising.

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